Time is ticking, chiming for clocksmith
PARKERSBURG – Roger Mackey can make time stand still.
Mackey has been collecting and repairing clocks for nearly 48 years. A workshop filled to the brim with clocks of all types and sizes is next to his home.
His house features a designated “clock room.”
At his business, Mackey’s Antiques and Clock Repair, 1249 Gihon Road, Mackey buys, sells and repairs clocks. Mackey said cuckoo clocks are among the most difficult on which to work.
“I got started when I was about 15. My uncle, who used to haul garbage, he found an old clock one day, and I traded him a shotgun for it,” Mackey said. “I started wondering if I got a good deal or not, I checked around with some antique dealers, and I fell in love with clocks and started buying them.”
Mackey, who has more than 400 clocks of his own, including antique grandfather, grandmother and granddaughter clocks, clocks with calendars, clocks with beautiful artwork decorating them, and a Coca Cola clock, which Mackey said is one of his favorites.
“The Coca Cola clock was given to me in 1967. It used to hang in a store down on Neal Street,” he said.
He doesn’t work on electric clocks, watches or alarm clocks and is one of the few remaining clock repairmen.
The clock collector said he no longer notices the striking and chiming of the many clocks in his home.
“It can be a little loud when you’re watching television and they go off,” his wife, Pauletta said of the clocks.
Before long, Mackey’s interest in antique clocks made him want to repair the precision timepieces. Mackey said someone showed him basic skills years ago and he started doing repairs from there.
“I got two clocks originally and I took the movement out of one of them, I just wanted to see what made it tick,” he said.
“His mom always said he liked taking things apart. She said he took apart every toy he ever had. If he wasn’t tearing apart his own toys, he was taking apart his brother’s toys,” Pauletta said.
“I told my friends I was going to start repairing clocks and they laughed at me,” he said. “Most clocks have similar works, but you never know it all, and once in awhile I’ll see something different.”
“Sometimes it just costs more to fix a clock than the clock is worth, but sometimes the clock has great sentimental value to the person and they really want to get it repaired,” Mackey said.
Mackey said clock and watch repair is fast becoming a lost art, and it’s difficult to find someone to work on clocks.
“Sometimes it’s a question of parts,” he said, although he has a building full of them at his shop, he sometimes has to go looking for needed ones. “They don’t make a lot of the parts for the olders clocks anymore.”
Some of his prized antique clocks housed in his special “clock room” date back to the 1880s, with some of 1820s-vintage. He purchased some of the clocks from individuals, others he picked up at estate, yard sales or auction.
“I can tell in a heartbeat if it’s an actual antique or not,” he said.
Mackey said although he occassionally does sell a clock or two, he prefers to hang onto most of them.
“One of these days I’m going to have to learn how to tell time,” Mackey said.
Mackey said his grandchildren have shown an interest in his clocks and learning the business.
“The grandkids sometimes help me, we have a regular papaw’s clock repair site on my website,” he said.
When he’s not repairing someone else’s clocks, Mackey enjoys history. He is a member of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society and helped the group with a website.
He’s also working on a book about history in Parkersburg and Wood County.
To reach Mackey’s Antiques & Clock, visit www.mackeysclockrepair.com or call 304-422-7274.